Updating vaccinations and performing routine screening tests are an important part of our job at Oak Forest Veterinary Hospital. While we love taking care of your pets when they are well, we also want you to know that we are here for you when things aren’t so sunny. Our veterinary staff is well-educated and experienced in the field of veterinary internal medicine and ready to help our patients when they need us most.
The Importance of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Veterinary internal medicine is the process of diagnosing and treating the many conditions that affect pets and cause them to be ill.
Veterinary internal medicine can encompass many different organ systems and physiological processes. We are experienced in diagnosing and managing conditions involving:
The endocrine system (including pet diabetes, thyroid disorders, and more)
The gastrointestinal tract
The respiratory system
The hepatic system
Urinary tract system, such as concerning renal disease or urinary issues
Immune mediated diseases
Infectious diseases, including leptospirosis or tick-borne diseases
When a pet is sick, we make it a priority to find out what is wrong and get to work helping them feel better as soon as possible. Internal medicine is a very important part of what we do.
Here to Help
When your pet isn’t feeling well, it is important to be sure that they are in good hands. Our expert team has a commitment to do our absolute best when it comes to treating our patients.
Many times, half the battle is diagnosing what is happening with an individual patient. While a physical examination can tell us a lot, further diagnostic testing is required. We are proud to offer many types of onsite diagnostic capabilities to our clients, including:
Complete blood counts
We are capable of hospitalizing and treating many pets once diagnosed, or while waiting for a diagnosis. Our hospital is equipped with an amazing team to take excellent care of your furry patient.
We are also lucky enough to be able to work with several specialty hospitals in the area for more advanced diagnostic needs and intensive care, should your pet need this.
While wellness care is an essential part of what we do, Oak Forest Veterinary Hospital is at the ready to do so much more. Call us today if you think your pet might need our help, or if you would like more information on our veterinary internal medicine services. You can rest assured that you will be taken care of by the best.
The team at Oak Forest Veterinary Hospital is focused on new therapies and advancements that can better support our wonderful pet patients. Many new modalities that can complement traditional medicine are acupuncture, massage, and laser therapy. Pet Laser therapy is an exciting treatment that can enhance recovery after surgery, injury, or chronic conditions.
Because it’s noninvasive, safe for all life stages, and does not require medication, we’re particularly enthusiastic about offering this service at our clinic. However, many owners may not know much about this therapy and its benefits, so we’re pleased to provide an overview of its many advantages!
Pet Laser Therapy: A Complementary Approach to Healing
Laser therapy, also known as Class IV or companion laser, involves the application of concentrated infrared light to an affected area of the body. This light causes changes on a cellular level, resulting in cell regeneration, improved blood circulation, increased lymphatic circulation, inhibition of bacterial growth, and desensitization of nerves, which lessens pain.
What Can I Expect?
Before any treatment begins, your pet will have a thorough assessment and examination to determine their needs and the expected number of sessions required for rehabilitation or management of a disease.
During your pet’s laser session, the only requirement is protective goggles. You’re also welcome to stay with your pet to make the experience more relaxing for them. A technician will apply the laser to the area in question for approximately 3-10 minutes.
Many pets find the warm sensation of the application very soothing. Unlike many other traditional treatments, laser therapy is suitable for senior pets, does not require sedation or other medications, and is entirely noninvasive.
The number of sessions required is specific to each pet, but many owners report improvement within a few sessions.
Houston residents may be used to high winds and heavy rains, but when the bayous begin to creep out of their banks, even the most experienced Texans might begin to worry. Rising water is just one of many problems our communities face, making disaster preparedness absolutely vital.
While many people evacuated during Hurricane Katrina and most recently Hurricane Harvey, an astonishingly high percentage refused to leave their pets behind. It’s devastating to consider an animal left behind may not survive – or be at home when you return – but when you’re prepared, your pet has a better chance of enduring wild, unpredictable weather. Are you ready to help your pet during a natural disaster?
Natural Disaster Essentials
Before we launch into the nitty-gritty of disaster preparedness, we’d like to remind you of the importance of microchipping your pet. This is just as vital as the collar and tags and is typically discussed during your pet’s first wellness visit.
Animals tend to hide or flee when faced with unexpected weather, and you and your pet could easily become separated. Having a microchip will significantly increase your chances of locating your pet during a natural disaster or in the aftermath of a storm.
Know Your Stuff
To protect your pet during a natural disaster, we recommend knowing in advance where you can go with your pet if you’re forced to evacuate your home. Most shelters are not allowed to take in animals, so check out the following places to see if pets are welcome:
Hotels or motels outside your immediate area (some establishments waive policies during an emergency)
Friends or relatives who live within driving distance
Local shelters may house pets in an emergency scenario
Depending on the situation, emergency personnel may be dispatched to your location. To help them out, the ASPCA offers a free Pet Safety Pack to display in your front window. This sticker will convey what kind of animals you live with and may lead to your pet’s swift rescue.
To familiarize yourself with our area’s disaster relief, check out Linc Houston or the Red Cross. The Oak Forest family is always here to help you and your pet. Please let us know if you need help collecting items for your emergency kit or details about evacuation.
Cats and dogs weren’t always considered integral members of the family, but they certainly are nowadays. Initially employed for herding, hunting, and pest control, the ancestors of the animals we now hold near and dear to our hearts had to work hard for a warm place to sleep at night. This hard-won balance between our species has been maintained for centuries and, in fact, we evolved together. As a result, we have a very specific affinity for them.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the economic downturn a decade ago didn’t affect the nation’s spending related to pets. While some people might view pet ownership and care as an indulgence in trying times, others utterly depend on the relationship with their pet. All this (and more) begs the question: what is at the root of the human-animal bond?
Research indicates that people who grow up with pets are more likely to own pets once they’re adults and leave the house. Whether an individual owns a pet is also related to genetics. In fact, some scientists like to theorize about the inherited predisposition some people have for living closely with animals.
And What’s More
Recent studies show that our deep affection for the animals in our care is aligned with our relationship to the natural world. Said another way, the degree to which we love animals is the same as our connection to the environment. Perhaps owning a pet is only one of the many ways some people in urban areas cultivate their link to the natural world.
The human-animal bond likely began as a relationship of mutual convenience that has since blossomed into a full-fledged friendship – without the mandatory chores. The fact that their “usefulness” has morphed into something that mirrors our own close human relationships is entirely unique to their ongoing charms.
Your Pet’s P.O.V.
It’s not really hard to understand why pets love us (or at least their version of what we’d call love). We simply take care of them and they return the favor with lots of devotion, happiness, and an unmatched, unwavering presence.
The Power of the Human-Animal Bond
One popular contemporary theory holds that caring for animals increases our own physical health and mental well being. Many pet owners find themselves drawn to other like-minded people, minimizing social isolation, loneliness, and depression. The abilities of animals to increase our own happiness encourages free-flowing affection.
The reason for all this? The release of oxytocin in both humans and pets occurs when they gaze into each other’s eyes. Prevalent among mothers and their babies, oxytocin is the love hormone, and it triggers feelings of unconditional affection and protection.
As we prepare to close out another amazing year at Oak Forest Veterinary Hospital, we would like to take a moment to thank you for choosing us! We are truly honored to provide your pet with top-of-the-line care, and we are grateful for the relationships we have built with all of our patients and clients.
Through our regular blog, we strive to provide you with informative, interesting, and useful pet care information. With diverse topics, such as holiday safety, senior pet care, and separation anxiety, our goal is to answer your questions and address your concerns when it comes to your sweet pet.
That being said, we have compiled our most popular pet blogs of 2017 into one convenient location for your reference.
Our Top 5 Blogs of 2017
What You Need To Know About Allergies In Pets – Watching a pet suffer from allergies can be tough. The endless scratching, repeated ear infections, and anal gland issues are just a few of the symptoms that can make pets miserable. Not only are allergies in pets uncomfortable, they can also put them at risk for secondary infections and other health problems if left untreated. Read More…
A Primer On Heartworm Prevention For Safety’s Sake – Our coastal climate is just one reason to love the Houston area, but it also gives rise to the prevalence of awful flying, buzzing pests. Beyond their irritating bites, mosquitoes are responsible for the spread of some serious diseases. Zika, malaria, and West Nile Virus (to name a few) are terrible for humans, but it’s heartworm prevention that we’re most concerned with for our pets. Read More…
Fleas – Understanding And Knowing How To Control Them – Although fleas and other pests are a year round problem, they are especially prevalent beginning in the spring when temperatures begin to rise. After first finding fleas on your pet or in your home, a shocked response typically follows. Knowing the correct steps to take is crucial for getting fleas off your pet, and out of your home, as quickly as possible. Read More…
The Dark Truth About Black Cats And Halloween – The western world generally regards black cats as harbingers of bad luck, evil, or death, but other cultures see these special felines differently. For example, many Asian countries and parts of the UK perceive black cats as lucky, even using them to ward off bad juju (how’s that for irony?). Bastet, the Egyptian goddess, was often depicted as a black cat who symbolized family, fertility, and joy. Read More…
Rattlesnakes And Pets: A Dangerous Combo – The warm sun and longer days are wonderful for most of us, including our cold-blooded reptile friends who become more active during spring. It also stands to reason that we spend more time outdoors with our furry friends this time of year. Read More…
We hope you have gleaned some great tips and recommendations from our pet blogs of 2017. Did any of these blogs rank in your top 5? Is there a topic you’d like to learn more about in the coming year? Let us know the next time we see you!
Ethylene glycol is the most common and the most dangerous form of antifreeze. Dogs and cats are attracted to ethylene glycol by its sweet taste. Many animals will voluntarily drink ethylene glycol if antifreeze is spilled or leaks onto garage floors or driveways. That’s why your friends at Oak Forest Veterinary Clinic would like to remind you of the dangers of Ethylene glycol poisoning.
Top 6 Signs of toxicity
Early signs of toxicity, which may be seen within 30 minutes of ingestion, include:
In as little as 12 to 36 hours, signs of severe kidney dysfunction, which is characterized by swollen, painful kidneys and the production of minimal to no urine, may occur. At this time, the animal may exhibit seizures, or become comatose. Vomiting and excessive salivation (drooling) may also be noted.
Therefore it is critical that you bring your pet to a veterinary clinic if you know that he has consumed ethylene glycol, if you suspect that he may have consumed ethylene glycol, or if he is exhibiting any of the early clinical signs. Do not wait! Time is of the essence and immediate treatment is essential!
Types of Antifreeze Testing
Ethylene glycol is converted by the liver into toxic products which cause direct damage to the kidneys. This damage can be measured in a serum biochemistry profile by increases in the metabolites creatinine and BUN (blood urea nitrogen) that are normally removed from the blood by the kidneys. However, these biochemical tests are not specific for ethylene glycol toxicity.
A urinalysis may also confirm kidney damage by the presence of dilute urine containing blood, protein, cellular casts (plugs of cells which have taken the shape of dying tubules from the kidneys), and calcium oxalate crystals. Disturbances of the normal acid/base balance of blood also occur with ethylene glycol toxicity. The metabolites of ethylene glycol cause the animal’s blood to become very acidic. This acidosis can be detected in a serum biochemistry profile as decreases in the bicarbonate concentration and increases in the anion gap.
Some commercial veterinary laboratories and some human laboratories offer blood tests to detect ethylene glycol. Since peak levels of ethylene glycol are detected in 1 to 6 hours after ingestion of the toxin, it is important that this test be used early in the course of suspected poisonings. By 72 hours after ingestion, insufficient ethylene glycol remains.
Does your normally calm Golden Retriever go crazy when a guest enters your home? Does your affectionate calico kitty hiss and spit whenever anyone but the immediate family gets near her? Are you concerned about having the holiday meal at your house because your Uncle Dan usually drinks one too many eggnogs and tries to give your dog, parakeet, and bearded dragon lizard all of his leftovers?
If this sounds like you, rest assured you’re not alone. Hosting a gathering at your home is a lot of work, but throw an unruly pet or guest in mix and you’ve added a whole new layer of stress, especially if your pets, or your company, aren’t prepared for each other. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make sure that pets and guests can comfortably and safely share a space, and maybe even enjoy each other’s company!
The Trouble With Pets And Guests
Besides the anxiety that goes along with chaotic relationships between pets and guests, even a minor slip up can spell disaster. That exuberant Golden Retriever may knock over and injure a small child or older adult, the angry kitty could scratch or bite if approached, and Uncle Dan may inadvertently feed the family pet something poisonous or accidentally leave the gate or front door open and allow a pet to slip out.
Train Your Pet
If your dog’s obedience skills are getting rusty, a refresher may be in order ahead of the big day. Spend some time working on your pet’s impulse control by reinforcing the “sit” command. If your dog tends to run through open doors, practice teaching them to “stay” when a door is opened. Your Oak Forest veterinarian will be happy to work with you on a plan to get your dog’s obedience skills in shape, and can direct you to local classes and resources if necessary.
Making sure your pet has a long walk or gets some other exercise before your gathering can help to reduce excess energy. Try to maintain your pet’s normal meal and potty break schedule on the days leading up to the event to reduce anxiety overall.
Train Your Guests
Sometimes, getting guests to comply with the house rules is harder than training your pet! Make sure your guests know about your pet’s quirks and how to handle them ahead of time, and ask them not encourage negative behaviors such as begging or jumping up by ignoring your pet when they walk in the door or during meals. You may have to double check to make sure gates and doors are closed, and that leftover food isn’t left where your pet can reach it. Don’t be afraid to put your pet in a “timeout” in their crate or a back bedroom if things get out of hand.
In some cases, such as with aggressive or extremely shy or anxious pets, or when a guest has a pet allergy or is fearful of animals, it’s better to find an alternate location for your pet. An out of the way room where your pet can hang out with their bed, toys, fresh water, and treats can be a good option, but in some cases you will need to find somewhere outside the home for your pet to spend the day such as a friend or family member’s house or our boarding kennel.
How do you tell if your beloved cat or dog is in pain? Sometimes, our faithful companions and cuddly cats make it easy for us. Sometimes, they will cry out in pain, hold up a paw or even limp. These more obvious signs usually happen when their pain is acute. Unfortunately, often times they suffer in silence.
A pet suffering from arthritis often doesn’t cry out or limp until their pain becomes intolerable. More commonly, a fair amount of older pets will do the best they can to continue in their normal routine. If we know what signs to look for in our aging pets, we can better control their pain before it becomes unbearable. Also, if we know our pets are starting to suffer, we can actually slow the process of pet arthritis with medications.
How do I know my pet has arthritis?
So, what should we look for? Can your cat still jump on the counter to eat, whether you want them to or not? Is your cat having difficulty making it to the litter box? Are you noticing accidents near the litterbox but not inside?
How about your dog? Can he jump into your car with assistance? How about stairs? Can your dog get up from laying down with ease or is it becoming a bit more challenging? Are mornings more challenging for your pet but they seem to “warm up out of it”?
These can all be signs of joint pain in pets. There are many things we can do to slow this process down and give our pets comfort as they age. With problems such as these, we can’t “fix” the problems usually and have to find ways to give our pets comfort.
Treatment Options for Pet Arthritis
There are several ways to go about treating your pet for joint pain. Commonly, we use several different approaches, or a multi-modal approach, to pain management. Specials food for joint support are available from all veterinary diet lines. Also, including supplements in your pet’s diet such as fish oil and glucosamine chondroitin can help. There are other medications available that actually slow the progress of arthritis. Finally, there are non steroidal medications and pain medications that may help.
If you notice any of these signs, consult with your veterinarian for preventative measures most appropriate for your pet.
Dogs older than seven years of age are considered senior pets. Senior dogs are in the stage of life in which the aging process is beginning to affect every organ system. Some organs “wear out” faster or are more susceptible to cumulative damage than others, so certain observations are especially important to make.
Here are some key recommendations that we feel are important for older dogs:
Keep vaccinations current. Your veterinarian will determine the proper vaccine schedule for your senior pet’s lifestyle
Have blood and urine tests evaluated at least once a year. Early detection of chronic diseases such as kidney disease, thyroid disease and diabetes is the key to successful treatment and preservation of quality of life
Brush your pet frequently to prevent matts. This can contribute to skin infections and may hide skin tumors
Clip toe nails as needed to prevent overgrowth. Long toe nails may cause the dog to stand and walk abnormally and result in pain or accelerate and exacerbate arthritic changes
Keep plenty of fresh water available and monitor its consumption. Increases in water consumption or urination are often associated with conditions such as diabetes, kidney and liver disease
Keep other pets from preventing your senior pet access to food and water
Keep your senior pet indoors most of the time, especially in inclement weather
Weigh on the same scale and record results at least every two months. Changes in weight can be an early indicator of disease
How often should I take my senior dog to the veterinarian?
You should take your senior dog to the veterinarian at least once a year for an annual check-up.
If your senior dog’s behavior exhibits any of the following, it is important that your veterinarian performs an examination:
Sustained significant increase in water consumption
Sustained significant increase in urination
Significant decrease in appetite or failure to eat for more than two consecutive days
Significant increase in appetite
Diarrhea that lasts over three days
Difficulty in passing stool or urine
Sudden loss of housetraining
Lameness that lasts more than three days, or lameness in more than one leg
Noticeable decrease in vision, especially if sudden in onset or pupils that do not constrict in bright light
Masses, ulcerations (open sores), or multiple scabs on the skin that persist more than one week
Foul mouth odor or drooling that lasts over two days
Increasing size of the abdomen
Increasing inactivity or amount of time spent sleeping
Hair loss, especially if accompanied by scratching, or if the loss is in specific areas (as opposed to generalized)
Persistent coughing or gagging
Sudden collapse or bouts of weakness
Inability to chew dry food
A seizure (convulsion or “fit”)
If your senior pet needs a wellness exam, please feel free to contact us to make the best of their golden years!
Diabetes continues to be one of the most prevalent diseases affecting people, but did you know diabetes is also on the rise among cats and dogs? Diabetes impacts 1 in 200 cats and approximately 1 in every 200-500 dogs. While this disease is more common in senior pets, we’re also seeing many cases among younger animals.
Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine disease that disrupts insulin production or absorption. Diabetes Type I occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin; Type II occurs when insulin is produced in less quantity or isn’t being efficiently used by the body.
Type I is more prevalent among dogs, while Type II most often affects cats. In both cases, diabetes can become life-threatening without treatment, which entails insulin therapy, much like with human diabetes patients.
Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats and Dogs
Excessive thirst is often the first sign pet owners may notice in their pets. Other symptoms of diabetes in pets include:
Increased urination (as a result of the increased water intake)
Weight loss (even if there’s increased or normal appetite)
Pungent, sweet-smelling breath
Urinary tract infections
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you notice changes in your pet’s water and food intake, it’s important to have them seen by a veterinarian. A simple blood test can determine whether or not we can rule out diabetes. If your pet tests positive, they’ll need ongoing treatment to manage the disease in order to live a long, healthy life.
Treatment focuses on insulin therapy to regulate blood sugar. Your pet will also require lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, increased exercise, or a prescription diet, to improve health and the efficacy of treatments.
The outlook for cats is especially encouraging as the disease, with the correct treatment plan, can be reversed.
Prevention is the best approach to any illness, and diabetes is no exception. Prevention includes keeping your pet at a healthy weight, feeding them a high quality diet in the right portions, and providing your pet with daily exercise.
While there are some breeds that have a genetic predisposition to diabetes (pugs, poodles, beagles, etc.), their risk is lessened with the prevention measures we mentioned above.